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The surprising Chicago Bulls will look to go up 3-0 in their first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics on Friday as small home favorites. The Celtics have not won in Chicago since 2014, also losing 12 of 14 straight up at the United Center and going 3-11 against the spread there dating back to 2010, according to the OddsShark NBA Database.


Point spread: The Bulls opened as 1.5-point favorites; the total is at 207, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. Line updates and matchup report.

NBA betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 114.3-96.3, Bulls (NBA picks on every game)


Why the Celtics can cover the spread

Boston is the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for a reason, but the team has endured some tough circumstances this postseason.

Point guard Isaiah Thomas has just gone through the hardest week of his life personally following the untimely death of his younger sister. Not that it will get much easier for him, but Thomas is expected back for Game 3 after missing the first two games to be with his family.

The Celtics were 23-18 SU on the road during the regular season and 24-16-1 ATS, so picking up a key win in Game 3 would not be surprising at all.


Why the Bulls can cover the spread

The Bulls have played like a completely different team so far in the postseason, showing how dangerous they can be when fully motivated. Chicago’s Jimmy Butler has also proved himself again as one of the most underrated players in the NBA, averaging 26 points, 8.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists through the first two games of this series.

Boston has no answer for Butler, and his defensive play has been outstanding as well. If he continues to play at this high level at home, a sweep certainly isn’t out of the question.


Smart betting pick

The Celtics are a much better team than they have shown so far, and this is a must-win situation in order to avoid going down 3-0, a deficit that has never been overcome in league history.

The Bulls were a very inconsistent team during the regular season, and bettors should not be shocked to see them play worse than they did in the first two games. For that reason, back Boston to win Game 3 as an underdog on the NBA point spreads.


NBA betting trends

Boston is 3-9 ATS in its last 12 games.

Boston is 2-4 ATS in its last six games on the road.

The total has gone under in five of Chicago’s last seven games.


All NBA lines and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and the OddsShark YouTube page for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app.

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